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Variation: Rising cultural exchanges with foreign countries since reform and opening up

The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee switched on a new era of reform and opening up. Economic construction became the focus of the Party and the country. China embraced the spring for great development of cultural exchanges with the outside world.

In 1986, China’s cultural exchanges with foreign countries surged to 1,075 involving 9,499 persons, compared with 194 cases and 3,035 persons in 1979. They were separately 16 times and 40 times of the annual average before the Cultural Revolution. The inter-governmental cultural agreements with foreign countries were about two times those before the Cultural Revolution. The targets of exchange were extended from traditional friendly countries to western countries and neighboring countries, including the United States.

Along with continuous deepening of the reform and opening up, China has evidently boosted its overall national strength and influences across the world. The situations and tasks for cultural exchanges with the outside world have also witnessed major changes. As it entered the new millennium, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary has raised a series of new and higher demands on cultural exchanges with foreign countries, in line with new development and changes of the Chinese and overseas situations.

Time has slid by, bringing great changes to the world. Along with steady progress in opening to the outside world, China is more frequently interacting with the outside world. Cultural exchanges with foreign countries, as a crucial link in this process, has made positive contributions with its own unique modes and contents in facilitating friendly cooperation and mutual understanding between the country and other parts of the world, elevating the image of the nation and its soft power, cultivating an external environment of harmony and peace, and facilitating the overall diplomacy and domestic cultural construction in the country.

In the new situation that the whole Party and people have given themselves up to socialist modernization drive, China’s cultural exchanges with the outside world, along with the adjustment of the diplomatic policy and implementation of the reform and opening up policy, have been gradually constructed from limited and government-directed exchange programs to an all-round, multi-layer, wide-scope and multi-channel pattern of operation.

To date, China has set up cultural exchange relations, in varying extents, with over 60 countries and regions. It has maintained all sorts of relations with thousands of cultural organizations. Its targets for cultural exchanges and cooperation are spread across the world. China has further intensified cultural relations with developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, particularly with neighboring countries. It has also kept improving cultural relations with developed countries in Europe, America and Oceania, and eastern European countries. This has become a most vigorous, energetic and prosperous stage of cultural exchange with foreign countries since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Cultural exchanges with the outside world have shown the following features during the period: 

Extended Sizes and Scopes of Cultural Exchanges

China’s reform and opening up policy has expanded cultural exchanges with foreign countries in greater scope and depth. From the founding of New China in 1949 through 1997, China signed inter-governmental cultural cooperation agreements with 175 foreign countries. Among them, 144 were signed after 1978, more than four times the amount before the Cultural Revolution.

From 1979 to 1997, China signed 402 cultural exchange implementation plans with other countries, ranging from culture, art, education, science, sport, health, media, publications, religion, youth, radio, film, television, cultural relics, museum, and books. Before 1966, China sent out and received about 200 cultural exchange groups involving about 500 persons each year.

From 1980 to 1997, a new era of reform and opening up, the Ministry of Culture alone handled 16,876 cultural exchange projects, relating to nearly 160,000 persons. Among them, it sent over 160 governmental cultural delegations to visit most countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, America and Oceania. It also received about 400 governmental cultural delegations from across the world. During the period, over 3,100 Chinese artistic performance troupes presented shows all over the world, involving 71,300 performers. About 1,800 foreign art troupes of 37,000 performers visited China.

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